When Riley was two years old, she “hurt” her thumb one day. The thumb ended up swelling to four times the size it normally should have been.
Riley’s parents, Ben and Sarah, took her to the doctor to get an x-ray—they were sure it was just a sprain/strain. The doctor sent them home because nothing was wrong, but two weeks later, the finger wasn’t improving. After see multiple doctors, they were referred to a Orthopedic Specialist in Des Moines.
After more visits and an MRI, the specialist referred the family to Dr. Polly Ferguson, a Pediatric Rheumatologist at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Because Dr. Ferguson is the only children’s Rheumatologist in the state of Iowa, it took four months to get an appointment for Riley to see her.
Within minutes of meeting Dr. Ferguson, she diagnosed Riley with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that is genetic. The injury that Riley got on her finger caused the inflammation to “come out.” Riley was immediately placed on several oral medications for her to take for the swelling of her joints.
Since then, Riley has discovered more inflammation in other joints in her body, including her toes. Riley has also undergone surgery to “clean out” her thumb and undergoes monthly lab work to make sure the medications aren’t too hard on her body.
Riley just turned 10 last month and is doing great. She is managing her Rheumatoid Arthritis with different medications, with doses ranging from twice a day to once a week.